Paramount to package films on portable hard drives

Deal with Seagate includes free 'Star Trek' offering

"Star Trek" is about to boldly go where no film has gone before: portable hard drives.

The 2009 blockbuster will be bundled with FreeAgent Go, a 500-GB external storage device from top hard-drive manufacturer Seagate. It's part of an unusual distribution deal with Paramount Digital Entertainment, which will offer "Trek" free along with a option to purchase 20 other films from the studio.

Paramount is looking to maximize exposure of its library beyond the usual windows while habituating consumers to think of these increasingly popular devices as homes for their films collection. Research firm iSuppli found the external hard disk drive market grew 20% in 2009 over the previous year because even as PC sales decline, there's a growing need to house personal troves of digital content.

"We're tapping into consumer behaviors that are constantly shifting," said Malik Ducard, senior vp digital distribution at PDE.

Consumers who purchase FreeAgent Go receive a promotional code that allows them to access "Trek" upon registering the product. Twenty other films also reside on the drive, but need to be unlocked via digital "keys" that cost anywhere from $10-$15 per title. All the films, which take up 10% of the drive's capacity, can be deleted.

The MSRP for FreeAgent Go is $139.99, but is available via for a promotional rate of $99. In addition to PC viewing, FreeAgent Go can be watched on TV via a companion device, FreeAgent Theater HD media player.

FreeAgent Go isn't Paramount's first experiment with preloaded content in the download-to-own market; the studio was the first to allow its films to be packaged with select Dell PCs. Since launching the offering in late 2008, Dell has brought other studios aboard through a partnership with CinemaNow.

Seagate is also exploring creating a digital storefront that could include other studios, according to Darcy Clarkson, vp sales and marketing at Seagate.

Other Paramount titles available for purchase via FreeAgent Go including "Ghost," "Beowulf" and "Dance Flick."